How to deal with injuries.

Today's Workout

5 rounds for time

7 Overhead Squats 95/65lb
10 Right Hand Overhead Walking DB Lunges 45/25
7 Burpees
10 Left Hand Overhead Walking DB Lunges 45/25

Katie's Hands

Sometimes we tear more than the skin on our hands. Here is Dax with a little personal anecdote about intelligently dealing with a serious shoulder issue.

Maintenance – it’s not just for consumer goods.

As a younger rapscallion I never gave any thought to bodily maintenance other than the basics – food & water, maybe the occasional bad decision regarding alcohol & drugs, but that’s essentially it.  Growing up as a child of the 80s, vitamins sort went out of fashion the same time we grew out of being Flintstone Kids (10 million strong…and growing). Beyond the Costco valu-paks (or GNC health paks if you were feelin’ real athletic that month).
 
As a healthy North American male in my 20s, I was lucky enough not to ever give it that much thought.  Beyond the standard injuries derived from surfing, skateboarding, or drunken revelry, I was okay.  At 23, I gave myself a partial rotator cuff tear…and it hurt.  But I tried to ignore it and work around it with acupuncture and restricting my mobility (Think “It hurts when I do this?  Then I won’t do this”).  By the time I was 27, the tear had become very bad, and everyone urged me to get an MRI.  Knowing that the verdict was going to be surgery, I put this off longer than I should (4 years).  Got the surgery, healed up swiftly and was back in the water in 8 weeks, not 8 months.
 
Fast-forward to 30 years old…and becoming a Crossfit athlete.  After going through all the amazing emotional spectrum that most of us go through when we start (it begins with “puke” during your first session, and progresses to “amazement” by the time you do your first WoD RX), I noticed a major problem when it came to pull-ups…surprise, on the same shoulder I had surgery on.  The first few months of crossfit, I had developed terrible habits of never warming up my specific problem areas, nor allowing myself the freedom to back off of movements that I wasn’t ready for until it became too late and injury occurred.
 
…which is precisely what happened 5 months after joining crossfit.  During “Cindy”, in the midst of the 4th round of pushups, my left shoulder gave out with a sickening, mushy feeling.  A visit to the doc the next day revealed a grade-2 shoulder separation on my other, non-injured shoulder. Hooray!
 
Nick referred me to a physical therapist that has a crossfit background, so it was good to get the perspective of someone who could examine your injuries and body positioning and have insight into how to not only heal the existing injuries, but give exact prescriptions (movements, not drugs) for bolstering and strengthening the muscle groups that I specifically needed to shore up before diving straight into doing pull-ups, or destroying a muscle doing push-ups.
 
To everyone wondering how it’s possible to separate your shoulder doing simple pushups, a brief aside; the author of this article – me – stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall, and weighs in at 264lbs.  It’s truly difficult to grasp the perspective of being that large unless you are that large, but suffice it to say that 99% of all crossfit movements (outside the rower) become exponentially more difficult and increased risk of injury as you move up out of the 6’3”/210lbs range.

Armed with my new ‘shoulder prep’ exercises from the physical therapist and a vehemently endorsed program of icing my shoulders after every WoD, I resolved to come off of injury and get my body to a place that RX WoDs were possible.  Having been a big believer in the benefits of fish oil for years, I was dismayed to discover that the amount of fish oil I’d been taking was having little to no effect on my body.  I had dutifully taken 3-4 capsules per day for years….nowhere near the 20-25 capsules I should have been taking to get a beneficial dosage for my size.  After swallowing my pride and gag reflex, I switched over to pharmaceutical-grade liquid fish oil…and am now taking nearly 7000mg of EPA-DHA per day (28 capsules’ worth).
 
Why do I mention it?  I’ve never had faster recovery or better mobility for any of my joints – shoulders, knees, hips – and coupled with relligious post-WoD icing, I’ve been able to move through workouts with 100+ pullups with minor soreness (if any) throughout the following 48 hours.
 
We can ALL do insane and crazy feats of strength – but the purpose of my story is to illustrate what an incredible change can be wrought from some simple steps.  Preparation and warming up.  Listening to your body.  Reducing inflammation through diet, icing, and proper vitamins.  When you’re young, it may matter slightly less, because your body’s only been in operation for a couple of decades, and probably doing intense physical activity for less than one decade.  Imagine how much your performance can increase if you stop and take a moment to properly maintain your body with what it needs. The advice of most professionals I saw was that a guy my size should “just accept the fact that there will be some things that you’ll have trouble doing forever.”
 
They were right.  My future career as a jockey may indeed be in jeopardy, but Crossfit is not one of those things.  Everything is good in moderation…even moderation.
 
Live fast.  Rage hard.  Treat yourself well…you’ll be stuck with you for the forseeable future.
 
/dax

 

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